The European Commission has published an evaluation report of investments under the European Social Fund (ESF) during the 2007-2013 period, with specific reports for each Member State.
The report shows that by the end of 2014, at least 9.4 million European residents found a job with support from the Fund. 8.7 million gained a qualification or certificate. Other positive results, such as increased skills levels, were reported by 13.7 million participants.
According to the evaluation, between 2007-2014, the European Social Fund has provided essential support to implementing national and EU priorities for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, including the Europe 2020 targets and country-specific recommendations in the framework of the European Semester.
Participants in ESF-actions were evenly spread between the inactive (36%), the employed (33%) and the unemployed (30%). Key target groups included the low-skilled (40%), young people (30%) and the disadvantaged (at least 21%). Women made up 51.2 million of the participants.
Member States benefited from significant additional financial resources under the ESF to address employment and social challenges, to reach people and set-up policies that otherwise would have had difficulty to find financial support. ESF provided, for instance, more than 70% of resources for active labour market policies in Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia and more than 5% of expenditure on education and training in Portugal and Czech Republic. The ESF also has sparked fresh ways of working between stakeholders and supported local and regional innovations that then were mainstreamed nationally.
The ESF has played an essential role in supporting the modernisation of public employment services and other institutions responsible for active labour market actions. In less developed regions the ESF has supported reforms in the education, judiciary and general public administration. This way, it gave a positive impetus to the business environment and creating more inclusive societies.
The ESF has also had a positive impact on GDP of EU28 (0.25% increase) and productivity, according to macroeconomic simulations.
Finally, the report highlights the role of the ESF in mitigating the negative effects of the crisis. Thanks to its flexibility, it could easily and swiftly respond to emerging challenges, by refocussing actions on those most affected by the crisis.